WASHINGTON — This weekend, race car drivers like Shannon McIntosh were literally taking a few student drivers for a spin at a parking lot at Dulles International Airport. She was giving demonstrations and talking student drivers through how to get out of a spin, and not to panic and hit the brakes.
“I just thought it would give my daughter confidence in learning to drive,” says Leesburg, Virginia resident Heidi Davis, who brought her 10th grade daughter to a free clinic provided by Ford Motor Co.
“I like the idea that she’ll learn how to recognize and avoid driving hazards,” Davis says.
About 100 teens attended each of the two daily sessions held Saturday and Sunday as part of the Ford Driving for Life event. “This is a hands-on exercise that we’re doing here at Dulles,” says Jim Graham, with Ford Motor Company. “We’ll put them through 10 different exercises inside the vehicle.”
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Car crashes are the leading cause of death for teenagers in the U.S. Graham says the program started 13 years ago as a way to provide advanced training for new drivers. The program teaches teens to make good decisions to keep them out of crashes, especially since new drivers tend to panic a lot.
Graham says the program is more advanced than what’s offered at the high schools. In addition to driving maneuvers, the teens got the chance to suit up in a drunken driving suit and a drugged driving suit, which is new this year.
Ford plans to do about 15 hands-on driving events nationwide like the one held at Dulles International Airport; it’s not clear when the clinic will be offered in the region again. Ford also hosts these driving clinics around the world.